Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February 5....Runeberg Day!

I walked out of the apartment and immediately noticed the Finnish flag waving in the gray morning light. Then I saw another flag and yet another. Finland is not like the United States, where flags fly constantly in front used car lots, private homes, churches. Here flags fly only on designated flag days and today, February 5, is such a day.

I wish I could share this treat with you. It is a pastry that celebrates February 5. I had a wonderful Runeberg cake on Wednesday in the cafe at the library and I will seek one out again today.

Everywhere in Turku you can find a Runeberg cake. They are in all the pastry shops and grocery stores. Why this sudden proliferation of the flag and the Runeberg cake? February 5 is the anniversary of the birth of Johan Ludvig Runeberg. This begs the question: Who was Johan Ludvig Runeberg?

For starters Runeberg wrote the words to the Finnish national anthem. I expect (hope) we will be hearing the anthem during the Vancouver Olympics. Here are the words in Finnish and English.


Oi maamme, Suomi, synnyinmaa,
soi, sana kultainen!
Ei laaksoa, ei kukkulaa,
ei vettä, rantaa rakkaampaa
kuin kotimaa tää pohjoinen,
maa kallis isien.
Sun kukoistukses kuorestaan
kerrankin puhkeaa;
viel' lempemme saa nousemaan
sun toivos, riemus loistossaan,
ja kerran laulus, synnyinmaa
korkeemman kaiun saa.

Our land, our land, our fatherland,
Sound loud, O name of worth!
No mount that meets the heaven's band,
No hidden vale, no wavewashed strand,
Is loved, as is our native North,
Our own forefathers' earth.
Thy blossom, in the bud laid low,
Yet ripened shall upspring.
See! From our love once more shall grow
Thy light, thy joy, thy hope, thy glow!
And clearer yet one day shall ring
The song our land shall sing
Runeberg was born on this day in 1804. He wrote in Swedish, but his poetry, like the music of Swedish-speaking Sibelius, is tied up in the birth of Finnish nationalism.


  1. Looks delicious and relatively Rudolph free.

    Love the lyrics--so true:

    This time of year the bud is really laid low and it's damn hard to picture it ripened and upspringing and such.